Lawmakers propose 5-year jail term for female genital mutilation offenders

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The House of Representatives has proposed to criminalise the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with the proposal of a five-year jail term for offenders.

A bill to that effect scaled through the second reading at the lower chamber on Wednesday.

The bill, which is sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson, intends to amend the Violence Against Persons (VAP) Prohibition Act, 2015 to increase the penalty for the offence of female genital mutilation.

The Bill proposed an imprisonment term of five years or a fine not exceeding N1m for any person who performs female genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such acts.

In his lead debate, Johnson explained that the amendment proposed to section 6(2) of the Act is as follows: “6 (2) Any person who performs female circumcision or genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such circumcision or mutilation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or pay a fine not exceeding one million naira or both”.

According to him, an amendment of the said section 6 will go a long way in deterring persons from engaging in the unwholesome practice of female genital mutilation.

He explained that a UNICEF survey recently revealed that in Nigeria, one out of four girls and one out of ten boys suffer from sexual molestation and about one out of ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

The lawmaker cited lack of adequate sanctions among factors that encourage the commission of such unwholesome practices like female genital mutilation.

“Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, excision, or genital cutting, comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injuries to the genital organs for non-medical reasons, mostly carried out between infancy and age 15.

“The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. Because it is usually performed without permission and often against will, it violates girls’ right to make important decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Reports show that, 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone a form of genital mutilation.